I’d like to share a story with you. I warn you it is tragic and has no happy ending. But it is important. Sadly, I’ve seen this story play out again and again, though with different details. And admittedly, this is a compilation of multiple stories with some dramatic license taken on my part. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (and keep from shaming the guilty). You probably know these people or some like them.
The lead singer of one of my favorite bands of the 90s and 00s has gone…I hate to say it…country. Darius Rucker, lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish, recently released a country album, “Learn to Live.” Some friends let me borrow the cd. Surprisingly, I like it. I guess I’m going soft in my music as I get older. Or maybe it’s just because despite the country sounding instrumentation, the voice is still Darius Rucker.
As much as I liked it, I couldn’t help but laugh as I listened to the first song, “Forever Road,” in which the singer promised to be committed to the woman to whom he was singing no matter what. They would work out every problem because they were walking on “Forever Road.” Then I listened to the second song, “All I Want.” In this one, the singer tells the woman he says he loves that the relationship just won’t work and it isn’t worth it to work on the problems so she can take the house, the car and even all the money he makes off this song, “All I want you to leave me is alone.” I kept laughing when the third song, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” was all about the regret of leaving a woman and finding out that she had married someone else. He wondered where they might be today if he had just turned around instead of being so filled with pride.
Another interesting contrast was between songs 9 and 10—“Drinkin’ and Dialin’” and “I Hope They Get To Me In Time.” Song 9 is about a drinker who wants everyone to forgive him if he calls them while he’s drunk. The first verse talks about him waking up with an old girlfriend trying to put together all the dots of what happened the night before. Song 10, however, is about a man who has been in a wreck because of a drunk driver. His life is flashing before his eyes as he hears the sirens and hopes they get to him in time.
Song 11, “While I Still Got the Time,” is the song of a middle-aged man wanting to turn over a new leaf while he still has the time. Finally, by song 12, he’s back to having the perfect woman. In fact, she’s so perfect he warns every other man who doesn’t want to settle down, they need to “Be Wary of a Woman” like his.
The real reason I bring this album up on family day, however, is because of song 8, “It Won’t Be Like This for Long.” It tells the story of a young father up all night because his newborn little girl was up all night. His wife tells him it will be alright; “It Won’t Be Like This for Long.” Then his little girl is 4 years old and going to preschool. When he drops her off, she’s caterwauling and won’t let go of him. The teacher peels her off his neck and he says, “What can I do?” She lets him know it’s not a big deal because “It Won’t Be Like This for Long.” In a week or two, he’ll leave and she won’t even know he’s gone. The man realizes in a little while, she’ll be a teenager, he’ll think she hates him some times. Then he’ll take her down the aisle and leave her with someone else.
I made Marita listen to this song so we could cry about it together. One-year-old Trina danced around the room oblivious to our tears. Eleven-year-old Tessa was up in her room reading. Though I hadn’t heard this song until last night, I live with its message every day. It was just yesterday Tessa was dancing around the room, barely able to stay on her feet. Now she’s 11. In another day or two, she’ll be leaving us for her own family. Then right behind her Ethan, Ryan and finally Trina.
Of course, I know there are all kinds of rewards from grown children and hopefully from their children as well. However, it just reminds me that it won’t be like this for long. Tessa will only be 11 for one year. Trina will only be 1 for one year. It would be awful for me to waste that time just writing on this blog, keeping up with Facebook and Twitter or trying to make money.
Another song on the album was “History in the Making.”
The singer was actually talking about his first kiss with some girl. They needed to savor the moment because they were making a memory, it was history in the making. He was singing about a girlfriend. But the principle is the same for my family. Each day is history in the making. We are creating memories. One day, my children will sit around talking about what things were like when they were young. What kind of memories will they share? Will they remember Mom and Dad sitting at their various computers keeping up with old high school buddies or will they remember us playing games, talking, working together.
I’m not saying there is no time for keeping up with blogs or other work. I’m just saying, it won’t be like this for long. As you hand off your kids to someone else or drop them off at their college dorm, you won’t look back and wish you had spent more time on the computer. Trust me on this one.
This past weekend, I had the great fortune of taking my wonderful 11-year-old daughter to Orlando, Florida for the Fathers of Faith and Daughters of Excellence retreat led by a great father of two daughters, Frederic Gray. It was a great experience. We stayed at the Doubletree Castle hotel, kicking off the weekend with a daddy/daughter banquet, listening to several great presentations about the role of the Father in raising excellent Daughters and also the role of the Daughter in heeding the advice of the Father.
Tessa and I had a great time. After scheduled events were over on Friday evening, we continued our own little daddy/daughter date and played a game of miniature golf. Of course, I thought that was great because I stomped her socks off. Then we crossed the street to Friendly’s and had a really good but really expensive chocolate shake. I also learned that sometimes even 11-year-olds snore. That was amazing.
I got a lot of good things out of the weekend and I think Tessa did as well. But one concept really jumped out at me. Frederic commented on the modern lies of raising a princess. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying boycott Disney or that it is a sin to watch their movies. I’m simply saying we need to consider some of the messages with which we may be training our little girls and never even know it. Consider just a few. You can probably give some thought to it and think of some more. These lies are expressed below as they are told to our little girls in these movies.
I can defy my father’s advice and direction and follow the impulses of my emotions and in the end everything will work out alright. After all love should be my guide when pursuing prince charming.
Truth: Hey, I know dads can sometimes be mistaken. But lets get real. A 40 to 50 year-old father knows a lot more about the way the world works and a lot more about 18 to 25 year-old boys than daughters do. Further, Hollywood and Disney aside, the American landscape is littered with broken homes because daughters were guided by the emotional infatuation they confused with real love and married someone despite the good advice of their parents.
I can find my prince charming by one night of dancing with a stranger.
Truth: Real love is not an emotional fit when a man walks into the room or places his arms around you. Real love is knowing a person intimately, knowing his strengths, weaknesses, flaws, personality, past, goals, etc. and then devoting your life to complement his. Real love is not an emotion that is out of your control. Love is an action that is your choice. You can certainly find a man who will thrill your soul for a while just by looking into his eyes on the dance floor. But you can’t possibly find a man you are sure you want to commit yourself to unconditionally or even know that he is worthy of such commitment that way.
If I love a monster enough, he’ll eventually change into prince charming.
Truth: Once again, the American landscape is littered with broken homes because young ladies were certain that the guy they were dating who was rude, inconsiderate, irresponsible and sometimes even cruel would change over time as she just loved him enough. Don’t get me wrong, people can change. But, daughters, you can’t change them. They can only do that themselves. Pay attention to the way your “prince charming” treats his mother and his sisters. That is how he’ll treat you and you are not likely to change it. Pay attention to how he treats you while you’re dating. If he is cruel, sarcastic, degrading, objectifying and condescending now, it will probably only get worse when you’re married to him. If you are only an object with which to make out or try to have *** **** while you are dating, you will not suddenly become a person with hopes and dreams in his eyes once you are married. Pay attention to his work ethic and his discipline while you are dating. If he is a bum who is mooching off his parents while you’re dating, he won’t suddenly become Mr. Responsible once kids come on the scene. Look, I know people change. I have changed over the years. But don’t buy the lie that you can change someone.
The most important thing in life is true love’s kiss from prince charming.
Truth: Physical intimacy is a great part of a committed relationship. Sadly, most folks today think physical intimacy is the goal of every relationship. That just isn’t so. The goal of relationships is completeness, wholeness. The goal is to find someone who complements and therefore completes you. You can’t figure that out if you’re merely focusing on his lips. I don’t know how many married couples I’ve spoken with or tried to counsel who claim they married someone they didn’t really know because when they started dating, all they did was make-out. I’m not at the point where I’ll call it a sin to kiss someone to whom you aren’t married. I might get there, but I’m not there yet. However, to be honest, I wish I had never kissed anyone but my wife. All the physical intimacy I ever had with girls before I got married only served to mess up the joy of the physical intimacy I want with my wife. They all became obstacles I’ve had to overcome so “true love’s kiss” could actually be something special. In any event, get this in its proper order. Physical intimacy is not the goal of our relationships. Physical intimacy is the celebration of one very special relationship that is already in it is proper and committed place. Get the commitment, the union, the completion down and then let physical intimacy celebrate that. Then you’ll really have your prince charming and then true love’s kiss can be very special and exciting. But if you’re trying to find prince charming by seeing what kind of kisser he is, you’re only looking for trouble.
I’m sure you can think of more. I may bring up more in a later post. But Dads, I hope you’re getting the picture. Again, I’m not saying boycott princess movies by Disney. But be aware and use them as opportunities to talk about the difference between fantasy and reality. There is a reason those stories are called fairy tales.